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Temperatures may be dropping, but there are ways to keep our herb gardens going until spring. Cold-hardy herbs, such as chives, mint, parsley, sage and thyme, can often survive chilly temperatures while continuing to produce flavourful foliage, as long as they’re provided with some protection or grown indoors. Even herbs such as rosemary that are more cold-sensitive can make it through the winter with additional protection.
Harvesting herbs fresh from your own garden is easy, fabulous and provides unlimited options for your home garden. Even over winter you can grow herbs outdoors to add flavour and depth to winter dinners and here are some of our favourite winter herbs to get started in your Green Smart pot!
Thyme is one of those herbs that seem destined for the kitchen in some way or other, but mostly as an ingredient of stuffing or for flavouring. There are so many different thymes, but the basic species and any of the lemon-flavoured forms are our favourite.
Thyme grows best in sunshine in a well-drained soil which your green smart pot will ensure just the correct amount of moisture. Regular trimming back keeps the leaf production going, but you will also need to regularly trim back plants that are getting woody. Keep harvesting for the very best results.
Chervil’s leaves transform an omelette into something sublime and are also useful for a light aniseed note in salads and anywhere that you would use parsley. Chervil is a hardy biennial herb, and if you make a late sowing in summer it will provide you with wonderful leaves during winter.
Cover with fleece if temperatures fall. It does best in partial shade; in full sun it will run quickly to flower and seed. I find that if I leave some plants to go to seed then I will have a good start the following spring with self-sown chervil.
This is one of our favourite winter herbs. It is an evergreen perennial, with woody stems, short aromatic leaves and in summer small white flowers. The leaves have a strong, warming, almost peppery flavour and they add a distinctive taste to soups and casseroles. It grows well in a sunny, well-drained site and needs a cutback after flowering to encourage new growth.
Like its summer relative, the annual summer savory (Satureja hortensis), it is a wonderful flavour companion for broad beans and other pulses. I add a couple of sprigs of either summer or winter savory to the water when I am cooking broad beans.
Parsley is everywhere and in everything… it is a hardy biennial, so a late summer sowing will offer you abundant leafy material through the winter. Curly or moss-curled parsley and flat-leaf parsley (you can get seed of Italian or French versions) have similar flavours. Both can be used in many different cooked and salad dishes, but curly parsley is the traditional one for a bouquet garni.
Grow parsley in a sunny or part-shady site, in a well-drained soil. It can be used as an informal edging in a Green Smart kitchen garden.
It is also useful as a breath freshener, especially popular for cleansing the palate.
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